Posted on June 16, 2018

Ms. Reem Al Saadi (pictured), Director of Dietetics and Nutrition at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), says avoiding heartburn and indigestion this Eid Al Fitr can be as simple as being more thoughtful about food choices and portion size.

She says the conclusion of a month of fasting combined with the celebration of Eid can lead to many people overindulging, particularly on foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. She notes that mindfulness and restraint are key to avoiding stomach aches and maintaining good digestion.

“Having a light breakfast, especially during the first day of Eid, eating slowly, and chewing each mouthful thoroughly will help set you up to enjoy the day’s celebrations. Try to be thoughtful about both what you eat and portion size. Eating smaller meals is better for your digestive system and preparing smaller portions will also help avoid food spoilage and waste. Foods that are higher in fat can be more difficult for some people to digest so try to limit these foods,” said Ms. Al Saadi. She says that our bodies are designed to eat smaller meals throughout the day, noting that large meals burden the digestive system and can cause bloating, gas, and low energy levels as the body struggles to digest. She says it is important to concentrate on quality as much as quantity, consuming foods from all the major food groups. She also recommends remaining physically active.

To help re-adjust to normal eating patterns post-Ramadan, Ms. Al Saadi recommends eating smaller portions and eating more frequently. She also recommends slowly adjusting the timing of the evening meal, noting that it is important to stop eating when you begin to feel full. She adds that eating foods that are light but high in protein, like shrimps, and increasing the amount of fresh fruits and leafy green vegetables eaten is recommended. She also suggests eating plenty of fiber-rich foods as they can help prevent constipation. She says it is advisable to limit sweets and highly processed carbohydrates such as cakes and biscuits and she highlights that sugar-sweetened beverages and soft drinks should be consumed in moderation as these foods have little to no nutritional value and can cause bloating.

“Aim to limit your consumption of highly processed carbohydrates and processed meat products. When possible, opt for fat-free meats and ensure foods you consume have been safely prepared. Foodborne illnesses are a major cause of abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea,” said Ms. Al Saadi. She says when possible it is best to eat meals prepared at home, noting that eating at home allows you to control the ingredients in your food. She also suggests avoiding fast food but says it is possible to eat healthily when eating at restaurants, noting that today most fast food resultants are able to cater to a variety of dietary requirements and have ‘healthier’ options on their menu.

The Ministry of Public Health, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website and have expanded the initiative by introducing a companion smartphone and tablet app. Introduced two years ago, the Ramadan Health website is Qatar's first online resource devoted to health and wellness during the Holy Month. Visit the Ramadan Health website at www.hamad.qa/ramadanhealth, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).

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